I love racing. I can’t get enough of it. The pre race nerves, the adrenaline rush on the startline, and the moment to moment intensity of a mid race battle. Often this is not appreciated at the time. There are moments when the legs want to stop or the nerves feel too much, but I seldom stop, I push on, desperate for more.
I have had a bit of a break from racing over the last few months, and Monty’s Revenge in Whakatane was an awesome was to relaunch into individual racing. The course is not too long, and with a decent mountain bike and run when compared to the kayak leg, it wouldn’t be too demoralising to see my time plument while in the boat. When it comes to multisport I’m very green. I wanted to pick up as much as I could from the other competitors. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, is a good way to look at learning race craft I think. Though it was hard to keep that in the forefront of my mind standing on the start line waiting for the start hooter.
To start we shot down the beach 100m or so before turning up a small creek and under the main road. The leg not only got us across the road safely with no need to stop traffic, but it split us up a little for the mountain bike leg. Sam Clark was the clear favourite, so I stuck on his shoulder, wanting to see if I could get through transition close to him.
A fast transition is a skill I don’t have, by the time I was on my bike Sam was long gone, as was Brad Jones and another rider. I had to be content with the 3rd group of 3 or so riders. The mountain bike course essentially had a small hill to test the legs, followed by a much larger climb up to the telecom mast behind Ohope. I managed to get ahead of the small bunch up the first climb and reel in one of the riders in front on the main climb. The descent was just as rapid, as we dropped down towards Taneatua, using a mix of forestry roads, singletrack and farm trails. Overall a cool leg, good riding, physically demanding and awesome views.
Anna was ready and waiting at kayak transition. It was skirt and life jacket on, a quick drink, and I was into the boat. Neil Jones helped make sure I was in properly and I was off. Perhaps my training is working, because my first thought wasn’t “don’t fall in”! A small improvement on most of my other paddles. I lasted about 20 minutes before anyone passed me, however from then on I had a fair few stream past me on the run in to Whakatane. All I could do was try to grab a bit of a tow on their wash, though this was with mixed success.
The final transition was just out the back of the Whakatane CBD. Anna and Neil again had me out of the boat quick. I chopped some Vitasport Pro and quickly laced the shoes (must get faster laces!). My legs felt good, not like the jelly I had expected! The stars up towards Toi’s track are rather steep even on fresh legs, but I felt ok on the way up. Across the top of Toi’s I felt I was struggling to find a rhythm, being rather stop start with my pace. On the descent I focussed on flow and running smooth, high lines. I took the steps at the bottom rather fast, having to catch myself a couple of times.
From here it was onto the beach. I managed to miss a short section of track, and instead traversed some extra coastline, taking a swim in the process. Along with a few others through the day (non locals), we managed to not see a big sign and instead take on the rocks. It was a refreshing dip in soem very clear water. The finale was 3 – 4km along a flat Ohope Beach. I pinned my ears back, kept an eye on the GPS and tried to see if I could catch anyone. It was good having targets to chase, and I did manage to pull a couple in before the finish. My run split was still not quick enough to beat Sam, as he crushed the field by miles. Brad Jones also showed me a thing or two about multisport. Still, it was an awesome race and has me pumped for more. I even picked up a few pointers along the way!